I've had more time to catch up on young adult literature over the past several months, so I'm sharing some of my favorites with you--and some that I am highly anticipating--that are essentials for your classroom (or school) library. (Click on the images to purchase via Amazon associates links.)
I wrote about Tomi Adeyemi's book Children of Blood and Bone on my other blog here. It's a different take on police brutality--one that infuses the theme in a fantasy world. (Read my post for more specifics about the plot.) It's also going to be a movie and I guarantee the special effects will be spectacular. Children of Blood and Bone is the first in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy and you'll definitely want to pre-order the second and third books for your classroom, as well. They are due out in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The novel features three different narrators on the same journey but all with different perspectives. It's definitely my favorite book I've read this year.
In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira is told in third-person limited point-of-view from the perspectives of two characters: Marilyn, a white 17-year-old in the 1990's who falls in love with a black man, is one perspective and Angie, her 17-year-old daughter in the present, is the second perspective. Angie never knew her father, so she leaves home to try to find him. It's a touching mother-daughter story that also deals with racism and coming-of-age. If you liked Dellaira's Love Letters to the Dead, you'll love this novel.
Last year I wrote about reading Angie Thomas's book The Hate U Give here and here. If you haven't added it to your classroom yet, you need to immediately. It's an excellent and relevant novel about a teenager who witnesses her friend brutally shot by a police officer and the aftermath that ensues in the community. It's the perspective we never get to see on the news: that of the victim's friends and family. The movie has wrapped up filming and is in post-production. It will probably be released sometime in 2019.
Her next book, On the Come Up, will be released June 5 of this year. This story is about 16-year-old Bri who aspires to be a rapper. Her father lost his life just before he hit it big and she's determined to make it despite all the odds that are stacked against her. It's sure to be an inspiring story about perseverance your students will appreciate.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone is the story of Justyce, an intelligent, well-rounded teen who finds himself the victim of police profiling and injustice. He writes letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in an attempt to deal with his feelings and wonders if things have even changed since Dr. King's death. Dear Martin, like The Hate U Give, gives readers a new perspective on current events, showing the other side of the story the media tends to ignore.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is a different take on the fantasy genre; Alice's grandmother, who was the author of cultish dark fairytales, dies then Alice's mother is mysteriously taken by someone claiming to be from Alice's grandmother's fictional world. Alice is just 17 and must befriend her grandmother's superfan to try to find her mother. It's dark, creepy, and mesmerizing--definitely characteristics your students love.
Bear Town by Fredrik Backman (author of A Man Called Ove) is about a struggling small town, its successful hockey team, and a rape scandal that could destroy practically everyone. It's a serious novel that tackles the serious issues and moral dilemmas in an honest and compelling way. This is more appropriate--and a must-read--for high school students.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton begins like a normal young adult fantasy novel in which beautiful girls are treated lavishly but turns into so much more. It's deep, thrilling, and tackles tough issues along the way. Because of its cliffhanger ending, this is definitely the first of a series.
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway is another multiple-perspective novel that tells the story of three teenagers (who are siblings) who were separated as infants but find each other and reconnect as a way to deal with the different losses and struggles each has faced. If your students like the tv series "This is Us," they are sure to enjoy this heartfelt novel.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sánchez is another book that deals with parent relations. Julia's older sister was the "perfect" daughter, taking care of her parents and doing everything they asked. But when Olga dies in a tragic accident, Julia struggles to deal with not only her loss but the expectations her parents have for her. She learns secrets her sister had that reveal maybe she wasn't so perfect after all. It also gives an inside look at children with immigrant parents and the struggles they face growing up in America.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo uses a novel-in-verse style, which flows with emotion. Xiomara is a teen who is caught between following the rules of her church and parents and following her own desires. Teens will relate to the frustrations and passion in this unique coming-of-age novel.
Scythe and Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman are the first two books in this powerful new Arc of a Scythe series. Set in a seemingly perfect world where there are no diseases, no war, no hunger, and no misery, two teens must become Scythe apprentices and learn how to control overpopulation by taking the lives of others. This series opens up so many new questions of ethics and boundaries. It's so hard to put down once you start reading!
Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Emily Carroll is a must-have in your library. It's the graphic novel you never realized you needed until after reading it. I loved the book and after hearing it would be a graphic novel, I thought it was an odd choice. But it proved me wrong; it's just as powerful (maybe even more so) as the novel.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland was just released this week. Set in a reimagined post civil-war America, the North and South must join forces to take on a new enemy: the zombies that rise from the dead to kill them all. Ireland tackles the topics of slavery and racism in such a different way, it sticks with the reader.
NEW SEQUELS TO ADD TO YOUR COLLECTION:
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is the third (and final!) book in The Illuminae Files series and was released last month.
Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray is the sequel to Defy the Stars and was released this week.
Rebound by Kwame Alexander is a companion to his novel The Crossover and was released this week.
The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth is the sequel to Carve the Mark. It will be released next week (April 10th).
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas is the fourth book (or should I say 3.5--it's a novella and an "in-between" book) in the A Court of Thorn and Roses series and will be released May 1st.
War Storm by Victoria Aveyard is the fourth and final book in the Red Queen series. It will be released May 15th.
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor is the sequel to Strange the Dreamer and will be released October 2nd.
WHAT ARE YOUR LATEST READS?
Share the books you've been reading or any that are must-adds for your classroom library in the comments below.
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